83075 10/25/2006 16:44 06BUCHAREST1644 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN 06BUCHAREST1450|06BUCHAREST1600|06BUCHAREST1644 VZCZCXRO2376 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #1644/01 2981644 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 251644Z OCT 06 ZDK ALL CTG NUM SVCS ----- FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5438 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001644
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, SOCI, RO SUBJECT: PACKAGE DEAL: NEW ROMANIAN DEFMIN AND EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER NAMED
REF: A) BUCHAREST 01450 B) BUCHAREST 01600
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Classified By: DCM Mark Taplin for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: Following President Basescu,s October 25 visit to Victoria Palace, Basescu and Prime Minister Tariceanu hammered out an agreement to give the Democrats their choice for Minister of Defense, while letting the Liberals name the European Commissioner. Subsequently, Minister of Defense Teodor Atanasiu offered his resignation, Romania nominated Liberal executive member Varujan Vosganian as the next European Commissioner, and the PD's Sorin Frunzaverde as DefMin. This tradeoff appears to give Basescu firm control over the MOD. End Summary.
2. (C) President Basescu paid an unusual visit to Prime Minister Tariceanu on the morning of October 25, ending two major disputes between the two palaces at one stroke: who controls the Defence Ministry and who nominates the next European Commissioner? The results of the negotiations became immediately apparent as, in rapid procession, DefMin Teodor Atanasiu resigned, PNL,s Varujan Vosganian was nominated for EU Commissioner, and PD,s Sorin Frunzaverde was named as the new DefMin.
Anastasiu Throws in the Towel
3. (C) Suspended Minister of Defense Teodor Atanasiu announced his resignation in a press conference after a weekly government meeting, declaring that he wanted to put to an end the conflict between himself and President Basescu. Atanasiu said his resignation was in the "best interests" of the military since it was currently in a &crisis.8 In press statements, the outgoing DefMin accused the president of infringing the law by refusing to revoke the decree that led to his suspension 44 days ago (reftel A). Atanasiu also opined that he thought that it was impossible for a member of the National Liberal Party to develop a good working relationship with the President.
4. (C) President Basescu had earlier announced on October 24 his refusal to revoke Atanasiu,s suspension, indicating he would instead approve the High Court Prosecutor,s launch of a new investigation into Atanasiu,s alleged abuse of office and corruption charges, filed by former Chief of the General Staff Eugen Badalan on September 25. Since the Prime Minister,s and Atanasiu,s surprise demand for the withdrawal of Romanian troops from Iraq in late June, tensions between the two palaces over the Defense Ministry have been highly visible. President Baescu sidelined Atanasiu in favor of CHOD Badalan on official visits, and the DefMin retaliated with a corruption investigation that resulted in Badalan,s resignation (ref B). In turn, the President approved a corruption investigation of a sitting cabinet minister, leading the PM to ask for Atanasiu,s resignation.
European Commissioner Also Named
5. (C) According to some PNL members, Tariceanu finally agreed to trade the Ministry of Defense portfolio to the Democratic Party in exchange for the President,s endorsement of the government,s nomination for European Commissioner. PNL Senator Varujan Vosganian was the government,s nomination for the Commission slot, but Basescu reportedly opposed the nomination, preferring instead FM Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu or Minister of Integration Anca Boagiu.
6. (C) At the beginning of the weekly government meeting, PM Tariceanu announced that PNL Senator and party spokesperson Varujan Vosganian was the government,s nomination for European Commissioner. One hour later, PD leaders nominated PD vice-president Sorin Frunzaverde to replace Atanasiu as Minister of Defense. PD Vice President Videanu confirmed publicly it was a political decision to give the MOD to the Democratic Party in exchange for the Liberals to nominate the European Commissioner. PM,s Chief of Staff Mihnea Constantinescu in a conversation with Polcouns characterized the negotiations as a &Noisy day, but with a good outcome,8 adding that &both were good choices.8 Vosganian appeared on television to say that he was honored and indicated he would travel to Brussels that night.
7. (C) Bio Note on Incoming European Commissioner Vosganian:
Varujan Vosganian was nominated by PM Calin Popescu-Tariceanu to be the Romanian member of the European Commission on
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October 25. Vosganian is a member of the National Liberal Party since 2003, when the party he initiated (The Union of Right-Wing Forces) merged into the PNL. Vosganian is the party spokesperson and an alternate member to the PNL Executive Committee, one of the top executive party bodies. Vosganian is the co-author of the economic chapters of the PNL-PD governing program.
Vosganian has been an important parliamentary player in the current legislative period in pushing forward the DA Alliance (PNL/PD) agenda on economic reform. As a PNL Senator, Vosganian,s support was crucial to the Alliance,s introduction of a flat tax (in 2004) that helped bring in more revenues from the gray and black economy into state coffers.
First as a Deputy and now Senator Vosganian has been consistently a professional, technical and competent MP on economic issues in the Romanian Parliament. He is Chair of the Senate,s Economic Committee and also Deputy PNL Leader. He is a fierce Tariceanu loyalist and supported the PNL call for a pullout from Iraq (although privately he admitted that the manner in which it was raised was unfortunate)
Vosganian was elected in November 2004 in the Romanian Senate, representing the PNL in Iasi county. He chaired the Budget, Finance and Banking Committee in the Senate. Vosganian has a long parliamentary career, beginning in 1990 as the representative of the Armenian minority in the Romanian Chamber of Deputies. He was reelected as representative of the Armenian minority in 1992. In 1996, he was again elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Senator for Iasi representing the Romanian Alternative Party (later renamed the Union of Right-Wing Forces).
Vosganian has a degree in economics (1982) and mathematics (1991). He holds a PhD in economics since 1998 and wrote books and articles on Romanian economy and finances. Vosganian is the founder of the Romanian Society for Economy and is a member of the International Experts Council from the European center for Political Studies (Brussels). He is an associate professor at the Academy for Economic Studies. Vosganian is also a writer and a poet and was a year ago elected the executive president of the Romanian Writers, Union.
Vosganian has a bright analytical mind and is fluent in English and French. He also has a macro-economic vision that is very free-market oriented. His liberal economic views minimize the state,s role in the economy. He has good, solid relationships in the Romanian finance-banking-capital markets. He genuinely listens to opinions in one-on-one discussions. He enjoys discussing and debating. He is pro-American, but even more pro-European, which could make him an important bridge figure for the USG in the future.
His wife, also of Armenian descent, is a fine composer of contemporary, modern symphonic music. His parents fled from Turkey during the early twentieth century. Vosganian is 48, is married and has a daughter. He reportedly favors Jack Daniels Whiskey.
8. (SBU) Bio Note on incoming Minister of Defense Frunzaverde:
Sorin Frunzaverde, aged 46, is a former Defense Minister and prominent figure in the Democratic Party (PD). He has been president of the county council of Caras-Severin, a county south-west of Bucharest, since 2004, an elected position. He also holds the position of PD vice president and represented the PD in Parliament between 2000 and 2004. Within the PD, Frunzaverde supported broading the party,s political profile and was the PD negotiator for admittance to the European Popular Party.
An engineer by education, he holds a doctorate in economics and is a PhD candidate in military sciences. Between 1996 and 2000, under the center-right Constantinescu presidency, Frunzaverde held the positions of Minister of Waters, Forests, and Environment Protection (1997-1998), Minister of Tourism (1998), and Minister of Defense (for eight months in 2000).
Funzaverde authored a book on European security and integration; he speaks English and German. He is married and has one child. Taubman